Tag Archives: review

Latest Haul: Epoxy 4

Why isn’t John Pham super famous? I think he’s respected by most of us who are familiar with his  work, but not enough indie comics fans are. This  probably has something  to do with the fact  that a large portion of his work has been self-published or appeared in anthologies, so it tends to  reach a limited market for a limited time. Maybe he’s a famous graphic designer, but I wouldn’t know it. That’s not my scene.

I’ve been a fan of John’s since I first came across his work in the early 2000s. I especially liked his design work on the video game-themed zine,  1-UP, which directly inspired my eyeglasses-themed zine, Hey, 4-Eyes!1-up

John’s signature self-published series, Epoxy, debuted back in 2000. Even back then he had chops, but Epoxy #4 is hella sophisticated.
John is such a smart book designer! I love the way his publications look, his use of color in particular. Epoxy #4 had a small inset booklet (“Jay and Kay”) and the rest of the book was taken up with the short piece “Deep Space.” And of course, there are some clever design bits, like the phony magazine subscription postcard that acts as an indicia.  From what I can tell, this book was printed on a 3-color Risograph. The registration is as perfect as I’ve seen with Riso (though there are a few pages where it’s off).epoxy2
“Jay and Kay” is made up of a number shorts about a female odd couple. It’s funny and weird and great. I love how John created advertisements based on relevant objects in the story (see Senior Beef’s Taco Meat Spices & Seasoning).epoxy3

“Deep Space” is a beautiful short about a space catastrophe. The story starts mid-accident without any preface. It’s spare on words and moves elegantly slow.epoxy4

Any ways, it’s great. You should buy Epoxy #4, though I’m not sure if it can be ordered online. I bought mine at Desert Island, but they quickly sold out. I’ll keep you posted if I find another source.

Latest Haul: Basewood

Look what arrived in the mail!


Here is my brand-new copy of Basewood, next to my framed, original Alec Longstreth art. Needless to say, I’m a friend and a fan. I’m partial, so this is a partial review. Still, you can trust me when I tell you this book is GORGEOUS. As a publisher, Alec knocked this out of the park. From its generous size (about 8″ x 11″), to the texture of its hardcover, to the debossing on the title (more on that later), this book looks as good as anything coming out of the major graphic novel publishers. Part of this praise should go to l’employé du Moi, the Belgian publisher/collective who published the French edition back in 2012. They did such a nice job that Alec tried to replicate their design.

I “ordered” this book by pledging on Kickstarter, something I do rarely. But I knew I could trust Alec to deliver the goods, and the book arrived just on time. It really rankles me when a Kickstarter reward arrives long after the book is available in stores. In those cases, all you can do is look at that bookstore copy longingly, thinking, “someday my copy will come,” while feeling like a chump.

An added bonus to “ordering” via Kickstarter was being privy to Alec’s Project Reports (27 of them to date!). Through these updates Alec meticulously records his publishing process, which utilized a printer in Singapore. I’ve never had something printed overseas, so the Project Updates offered a valuable how-to. I hope Alec collects these process notes into a zine, because it’s handy info.

And, it was through these updates that I learned the difference between embossing and debossing. Alec explains, “I was calling this embossing, but the printer corrected me: embossing is punched from behind so it is raised, debossing is punched from the front, so it is lowered.”

The price for the book is a tad low, just $19.99. I’d expect something like $25+ for a high quality hardcover that’s  slightly over-sized. But I’m sure Alec did his homework and can afford to sell it at this price.

Any way, you should pre-order a copy. (As a bookstore employee, I’m loathe to point you to Amazon, but I couldn’t find a better link. Your local comic shop can order it via Diamond: Diamond Order Code JAN14 0835.)

Frontier #3 by Sascha Hommer

Look what arrived in the mail!


Minicomic subscription systems are interesting. I’ve never offered a
subscription myself, and I rarely sign up for them. As a customer, the upfront
cost scares me off and I’m not such a completist that I need to own a
publisher’s complete annual catalog. But, it’s a novel alternative to retail and convention sales. I’d like to learn more about how effective it is.

When Youth in Decline offered a 2014 subscription, it was a no brainer. I consider Youth in Decline a “high fidelity” micro-press (along with Study Group and a handful of others). Their books are well-designed and the content is well-packaged, yet the price point isn’t too high. Whenever I see a new issue of their flagship series, Frontier, I snatch it up. their latest edition is Frontier #3 by Sascha Hommer.

frontier3_preview2I’d never heard of Sascha Hommer, but I’m impressed. He combines precise linework with texture (dry brush?) and half tones to create a stylized cartooning that’s really appealing. He reminds me of a cleaner José-Luis Olivares (whom I adore). I also like the use of flat colors. In one case it appears he created a background by layering flat color on top of a high contrast photograph, to nice effect.

Frontier #3 offers three short stories (“Drifter,” “Transit,” and “The Black Lord”). They each suggest larger (but unrelated) stories and end without typical climaxes. But I didn’t find the stories incomplete or unsatisfying. I was comfortable with that sense of mystery.

Any way, it’s good stuff. Buy it.